Mike Mansfield’s been gone 14 years

October 5, 2015

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, D-Montana

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, D-Montana; oil on canvas by Aaron Shikler, 1978 – Wikimedia image

Mike Mansfield was born on March 16, 1903.  Best boss I ever had.

Mansfield died 14 years ago on this day, October 5. Rarely a day goes by I don’t read the newspaper and think we could sure use a few more people like him today.  He’s been gone 14 years, and I miss him. I hope I’m not alone in that.

Robert A. Nowlan’s Born This Day attributed this quote to Mansfield:

After all, even a politician is human.

Laconic as he was, Mansfield didn’t say anything more meaty than that?

Read about Mansfield at the Bathtub, here.  Mansfield died on October 5, 2001.  He is interred at  Arlington National Cemetery in a soldier’s grave, reflecting his unique view of the world from an ordinary grunt soldier. Mansfield served as a Seaman in the U.S. Navy, enlisting at the age of 14; he served then as a Private in the U.S. Army; then he served as a private in the U.S. Marine Corps. His history proved a delightful prelude when, as Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate,  he met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon on issues of soldiers’ welfare.

At our current sad time, when the political agenda of activist republic destroyers includes bitterly working hard to wipe out the history of great men like Mansfield, it’s important we remember him.

English: Senate desk X, used by Democratic lea...

This is a photo of one of the rarest views of history one can see, visible only to those few people who get onto the floor of the U.S. Senate, and only if someone opens a desk for them.  One of the more interesting, odd, and sentimental traditions developed in the U.S. Senate is the signing of the desks.  Sometime in the 19th century senators began signing the inside of the desks they were assigned to on the Senate floor.  Sometimes a desk gets associated with a particular state and a senator from that class; sometimes a desk get associated with family (Sens. John, Ted and Robert Kennedy, for example).  Here is Senate desk X, used by Democratic leaders (Joseph T. Robinson, Alben W. Barkley, Scott W. Lucas, Ernest McFarland, Lyndon B. Johnson, Mike Mansfield, Robert Byrd, George J. Mitchell, Tom Daschle and Harry Reid) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More:

Mike Mansfield on the cover of Time Magazine, March 20, 1964. This cover story reminds us that the Democrats were a fractious majority in the 1960s, which lends an even greater patina to Mansfield's reputation as a wrangler of Senators and the Senate Majority, at one of the most productive times in Congress's history, a sharp comparison to 2015.

Mike Mansfield on the cover of Time Magazine, March 20, 1964. This cover story reminds us that the Democrats were a fractious majority in the 1960s, which lends an even greater patina to Mansfield’s reputation as a wrangler of Senators and the Senate Majority, at one of the most productive times in Congress’s history, a sharp comparison to 2015.

 

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.


Quote of the moment: Mike Mansfield (b. March 16, 1903)

March 16, 2013

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, D-Montana

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, D-Montana; oil on canvas by Aaron Shikler, 1978 – Wikimedia image

Mike Mansfield was born on March 16, 1903.  Best boss I ever had.

Robert A. Nowlan’s Born This Day attributed this quote to Mansfield:

After all, even a politician is human.

Laconic as he was, Mansfield didn’t say anything more meaty than that?

Read about Mansfield at the Bathtub, here.  Mansfield died on October 5, 2001.

At a sad time when the political agenda of activist republic destroyers includes bitterly working hard to wipe out the history of great men like Mansfield, it’s important we remember him on his birthday.

English: Senate desk X, used by Democratic lea...

This is a photo of one of the rarest views of history one can see, visible only to those few people who get onto the floor of the U.S. Senate, and only if someone opens a desk for them.  One of the more interesting, odd, and sentimental traditions developed in the U.S. Senate is the signing of the desks.  Sometime in the 19th century senators began signing the inside of the desks they were assigned to on the Senate floor.  Sometimes a desk gets associated with a particular state and a senator from that class; sometimes a desk get associated with family (Sens. John, Ted and Robert Kennedy, for example).  Here is Senate desk X, used by Democratic leaders (Joseph T. Robinson, Alben W. Barkley, Scott W. Lucas, Ernest McFarland, Lyndon B. Johnson, Mike Mansfield, Robert Byrd, George J. Mitchell, Tom Daschle and Harry Reid) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More:


Quote of the moment: Mike Mansfield

September 20, 2011

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, D-Montana

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, D-Montana; oil on canvas by Aaron Shikler, 1978 - Wikimedia image

Mike Mansfield was born on March 16, 1903.  Best boss I ever had.

Robert A. Nowlan’s Born This Day attributed this quote to Mansfield:

After all, even a politician is human.

Laconic as he was, Mansfield didn’t say anything more meaty than that?

Read about Mansfield at the Bathtub, here.  Mansfield died on October 5, 2001.


Great tribute to Mike Mansfield

July 3, 2010

If you come here often you may remember my views of my first real boss, Sen. Mike Mansfield, D-Montana.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, oil on canvas painting by Aaron Shikler, 1978 - Wikimedia image

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, oil on canvas painting by Aaron Shikler, 1978 - Wikimedia image

For Memorial Day, author James Grady (Six Days of the Condor) wrote a tribute to Mansfield for Politics Daily.  Grady makes the history sing nicely, I think — and he included a key photo taken by his son.  You should go read the piece, and maybe save it, if you have any tributes to veterans coming up in your future.

But, particularly, it’s interesting to read about the Majority Leader under whom the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-West Virginia, rose to power.  Both men were great in their own right.  Mansfield opened the doors and knocked down a few barriers so that Byrd could succeed.  Without Mansfield’s gentle handling of Byrd, especially through the crush of civil rights legislation in the 1960s, could Byrd have so masterfully crafted his life?

Thanks for the Mansfield history contribution, Mr. Grady.

Read the rest of this entry »


Democratic Party pushes civil rights in the modern era — don’t be hoaxed

August 8, 2018

How Congress voted on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, broken down by party and with a few more details; chart by Kevin M. Kruse; from Kruse's Twitter account.

How Congress voted on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, broken down by party and with a few more details; chart by Kevin M. Kruse; from Kruse’s Twitter account.

Not sure if everybody got their Bogus History from Dinesh D’Souza, but a lot of people have the same wrong ideas about what party supported civil rights in the post-World War II era. These crappy distortions of history are showing up on Facebook and all over Twitter. Worse, people believe them.

The crappy claim is that Democrats are the party of racism and support for the Ku Klux Klan. Historically, that was once so; but it has not been so since 1948 as the two main parties in the U.S. switched positions, with Democrats taking on civil rights as a key cause for Democratic constituencies, and the Republican Party retreating from Abraham Lincoln’s work in the Civil War and immediate aftermath, and instead welcoming in racists fleeing the Democratic Party.

Think Strom Thurmond, vs. Mike Mansfield and Lyndon Johnson.

Kevin Kruse corrected D’Souza in a series of Tweets, and you ought to read them and follow the notes. Kruse is good, and better, he is armed with accurate information.

This is solid history, delivered by Kruse in a medium difficult for careful explanations longer than a bumper sticker.

Mr. Kruse made a key point early in the thread.

First of all, the central point in the original tweet stands. If you have to go back to the 1860s or even the 1960s to claim the “party of civil rights” mantle — while ignoring legislative votes and executive actions taken in *this* decade — you’re clearly grasping at straws.

Anyone who reads newspapers would know that. Alas, one of the campaigns of conservatives over the past 40 years has been to kill off newspapers. They’ve been way too successful at it.

I’ll include mostly the Tweets for the rest of this post.

It’s a big tell. See my earlier posts on the 7 Warning Signs of Bogus History.

You can view the entire thread in one unroll, which I find difficult to translate to this blog platform — but you may find it easier to disseminate:

 

 

 


Odd juxtaposition of images — but it gives me some hope

January 29, 2013

A great photo from Pete Souza, the current White House photographer.  I’m hoping to track down I’ve tracked down even more details on this, because not all sources like to post all the credit information or other stuff a newspaper or blog should have . . .

Pete Souza photo, lunch in the White House, Obama, Boehner, Pelosi, Reid, McConnell

Photo of a lunch in an anteroom of the President’s office, with President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Consolidated News published the photo for its clients with this information:

United States President Barack Obama has lunch with members of the Congressional Leadership in the Oval Office Private Dining Room, May 16, 2012. The President served hoagies from Taylor Gourmet, which he purchased after a small business roundtable earlier in the day. Seated, clockwise from the President, are: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat of Nevada), U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican of Kentucky), U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Democrat of California), and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (Republican of Ohio)..Mandatory Credit: Pete Souza – White House via CNP

At least we know where to get sandwiches like that, now. (Here’s the photo in the White House Flickr set.)

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield; oil on canvas by Aaron Shikler, 1978;  photo of painting from Wikipedia

Way back in the Early Holocene, when I first interned with the U.S. Senate, Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, D-Montana, held a close friendship with Sen. George Aiken, R-Vermont.  Many mornings they breakfasted together in the staff carry-out in the basement of the Capitol; their wives were friends, too.  One morning we got a question on some hot political issue at the Democratic Policy Committee (where I shared the best office I ever had in the third floor of the Capitol); I was dispatched to find Mansfield at breakfast and get an answer.  I found him dining with Aiken.

I forget the issue, but it was highly politically charged, something about policy on Vietnam.  Republicans and Democrats were much at war on the issue.  Mansfield read the note, and showed it to Aiken.  They discussed the issue while Mansfield penned an answer and handed it to me.  No big deal — two senators dealing with an important issue, talking it over.

When I joined Senate staff in a permanent position, life was much different among the senators.  The easy camradery between Mansfield and Aiken couldn’t be found anywhere.  That was in the late 1970s.  Partisanship was much sharper and nastier than I had seen earlier.  Vietnam was over, and that was probably a good thing.  The divisiveness I found would not have lent itself to any resolution of Vietnam.

At the RARE II conference at the University of Montana, in 1978, I heard a presentation from a staffer to Montana’s Sen. Paul Hatfield, if I recall correctly, a guy who had staffed for Sen. Lee Metcalf before.  He described the difficulties in getting serious legislation done on public lands issues.  As he described it, especially before the installation of air conditioning in the Capitol, the Senate would recess for the insufferable summer heat.  Senators, who had developed working relationships, if not friendships, would visit each other in their home states, for hunting and sight-seeing, among other things.  A Montana senator might show his colleague from Vermont how different the Rocky Mountains are from the Appalachians.  A Louisana senator might show his colleagues from western states how different is flood control on the Mississippi than on the Colorado or Sacramento, or Columbia.  By the time the Senate got back to business in the fall, legislation had been worked out, key alliances formed to get things done for various states, and though opposition was expressed to many projects, it was genuine difference of opinion expressed to friends.

That’s gone.  In 2013, it’s rare a Member of Congress can develop those kinds of relationships with other Members, especially with the fund-raising requirements for re-election.  Members travel back to their states and districts as many weekends as they can; they get to know their staff on each end, but they don’t know the other senators, or members of Congress.

President Warren G. Harding doesn’t have a reputation as a great president; but his poker parties were famous.  Lyndon Johnson didn’t play poker a lot (though I understand he did on occasion), but his presidency’s record in photographs show that he invited Members of Congress individually for afternoon meetings, often punctuated with a drink, always slathered in business and the potential for favors or arm-twisting.  Those sessions are legendary for the legislation they greased into law.

When I saw that photo at the top, I was put in mind of another famous image.

Norman Rockwell's Freedom from Want

Norman Rockwell’s painting, “Freedom from Want,” part of a quartet based on the Four Freedoms State of the Union Speech of Franklin Roosevelt, in January 1941.

Did Souza have that Rockwell painting in mind when he framed that shot?

Rockwell’s work was more than just iconic, really.  In the simple history, from Wikipedia:

The Four Freedoms or Four Essential Human Freedoms is a series of oil paintings produced in 1943 by the American artist Norman Rockwell. The paintings are approximately equal in dimension with measurements of 45.75 inches (116.2 cm) × 35.5 inches (90 cm).[1] The series, now in the Norman Rockwell Museum, was made for reproduction in The Saturday Evening Post over the course of four consecutive weeks in 1943 alongside essays by prominent thinkers of the day. Later they were the highlight of a touring exhibition sponsored by the Saturday Evening Post and the United States Department of the Treasury. The touring exhibition and accompanying sales drives raised over US$132 million in the sale of war bonds.[2]

The Four Freedoms theme was derived from the 1941 State of the Union Address by United States President Franklin Roosevelt delivered to the 77th United States Congress on January 6, 1941.[3] During the speech he identified four essential human rights (Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom From Want and Freedom From Fear) that should be universally protected and should serve as a reminder of the American motivation for fighting in World War II.[4]

The theme was incorporated into the Atlantic Charter,[5] and it became part of the charter of the United Nations.[6] Roosevelt’s message was as follows: “In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.”[3][7]

Torpedo sandwiches from Taylor’s don’t exactly make a Thanksgiving dinner, but that’s not the point.  Rockwell portrayed an American family — at Thanksgiving, perhaps — sitting down to enjoy dinner together, breaking bread together as a Christian preacher might put it in a sermon.  President Johnson famously invited, “Come, let us reason together.”  Around Obama’s smaller-than-Rockwell’s table, the smiles are not so evident.  But I still see hope.

I see some hope for friendship, for the relationships that might move legislation, for the legislation that might move the nation.  God and Norman Rockwell know we could use it.

We can hope, can’t we?

More, perhaps related:


Quote of the moment: Mr. Mike’s everlasting humility

May 30, 2009

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, oil on canvas painting by Aaron Shikler, 1978 - Wikimedia image

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, oil on canvas painting by Aaron Shikler, 1978 - Wikimedia image

Beginning in March 1974 I had the great pleasure and high honor of interning with the Secretary of the Senate, Francis R. Valeo.  Valeo served because of his close relationship with the Majority Leader, Mike Mansfield, and working in Valeo’s office put one on the Mansfield team.  In an era before serious security with magnetometers in Washington’s public buildings — we didn’t even have photo identification cards then — Mike Mansfield’s signature on my staff card got me anywhere I wanted to go in Washington, including the White House.

People who knew Mansfield held him in very high regard.  I often tell people he was the best politician to work for, but in reality, he’s probably the best leader I ever worked with in any enterprise.  He respected every senator as a representative of the people of one of the 50 states, and that respect was returned.

In his office one afternoon he met with the a couple of members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the big bigwigs from the Pentagon.  Mansfield was a former sailor, marine and soldier — he had served in the Navy, Army and Marines.   He lied about his age the first time.  He had served in China and the Philippines, producing a life-long interest and deep expertise in U.S. affairs in the Pacific and Far East.

But this was 1974.  Mansfield had turned against supporting corrupt Vietnamese politicians early in the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.  Originally a supporter of Nixon’s policies, by 1974 his opposition to the war was the chief part of their relationship.  Still the military guys loved him.  An Army Colonel accompanying the group was anxious to explain to the young intern part of the mystique.

“You should see Mansfield in the formal meetings.  Everybody is always introduced, and their full rank is laid on the table.  ‘General Muckamuck.  West Point ’33, Columbia Law.  Admiral Bigship.  General Soandso, who recently got his third star.'”

“And then they get to Mansfield.  He’s the Senate Majority Leader.  And he introduces himself as ‘Mike Mansfield, Private First Class.'”

I asked Mansfield about it later.  He smiled, and said he might have done that a time or two.  He said that the big brass in the military need to remember as every senator does that they work for the American people.  Rank doesn’t make you right, he said.

Looking up a minor fact on Mansfield this morning I ran into this statement, which I’d never heard [quoting now from Wikipedia]:

This gentleman went from snuffy to national and international prominence. And when he died in 2001, he was rightly buried in Arlington. If you want to visit his grave, don’t look for him near the “Kennedy Eternal Flame”, where so many politicians are laid to rest. Look for a small, common marker shared by the majority of our heroes. Look for the marker that says “Michael J. Mansfield, Pfc. U.S. Marine Corps.”

Remarks by Col. James Michael Lowe, USMC, October 20, 2004.

The burial plot of Senator and Mrs. Mansfield can be found in section 2, marker 49-69F of Arlington National Cemetery.

For the sake of accuracy, I would like to know the occasion of Col. Lowe’s remarks, and who Col. Lowe is.  The link at Wikipedia is dead.  Does anyone know?

Resources:

Know a marine?  Honor a Marine hero and share this story:

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Biden, aye!

August 23, 2008

Joe Biden it is. I’ve known Biden and watched him since my first turn staffing the Senate, 34 years ago. Day in and day out, he’s a good man. More, he will make a great vice president.

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., at a Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Iraq (September 11, 2007) - Wikimedia photo

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., at a Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Iraq (September 11, 2007) - Wikimedia photo

One of the things that has always distinguished Biden to me is his dedication to his family. Shortly after he was elected to the Senate, his wife and infant daughter were killed in a car-train accident, which also injured is two sons, Beau and Hunt. Biden informed Senate leaders he would not leave his children at such a time, and that he’d resign his election. Majority Leader Mike Mansfield and several others worked to persuade Biden to find some way to serve. By the time I joined Mansfield’s office in 1974, Mansfield was glad to have persuaded Biden, since his expertise and cool judgment were needed in the latter days of the Watergate Constitutional crises.

Bill Bradley tells the story, touchingly, in his book Time Present, Time Past, about how Arkansas Sen. John L. McClellan told Biden the best thing he could do would be to serve in the Senate and work hard — McClellan having lost his wife to spinal meningitis while driving back to Arkansas on business, and then one son to the same disease (in Africa, a few years later), and two more sons in an auto crash and an airplane crash.

Biden resolved the problem by commuting every day, from Wilmington, Delaware, to Washington, D.C. Not moving to the capital kept Biden grounded, in a way most senators cannot be.

Beau Briden today is Delaware’s attorney general, and a Captain in the National Guard, deploying to Iraq in October 2008. Hunt is an attorney working in Washington, D.C. Biden remarried in 1977. He and his wife, Jill, have a daughter, Ashley.

Ear worm: For several years while I staffed the Senate, Biden led off the roll call votes. I cannot hear his name without hearing in my head the Clerk of the Senate calling the roll for votes, “Sen. Biden,” and when Biden offered his assent the clerk would quickly intone, “Biden, ‘aye.'” When my phone beeped and I saw it was Biden, I still heard the Clerk’s voice, “Biden, aye.”

Great pick on Obama’s part.

You should check out:


Tagged by Myers to do history! Meet James Madison

March 1, 2008

One of those memes. I’ve got a couple of them hanging fire still, I really do badly at this stuff.

So I have to start chipping away at them. Latest first.

P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula tagged me. As he describes it, it’s a meme of history; here’s what I’m to do:

  1. Link to the person who tagged you.
  2. List 7 random/weird things about your favorite historical figure.
  3. Tag seven more people at the end of your blog and link to theirs.
  4. Let the person know they have been tagged by leaving a note on their blog.

Okay, #1 is out of the way.

Now the trouble. A favorite “historical” figure? Maybe for Myers, a biologist, that’s easy. But I teach history. I like teaching the quirky stuff. The universe of possibilities is so enormous! Whom to choose? How to choose? Which seven little snippets?

Here are some of the possibilities — you may as well share in my misery.

I could designate Douglas Stringfellow. You’ve never heard of him, most likely. He was known most famously as a congressman from Utah’s 1st District in the 1950s. Stringfellow rose to prominence on the strength of his stories of behind-enemy-lines work, kidnapping physicist Otto Hahn, losing the other 29 members of his squad, escaping to France and losing the use of his legs from a land mine there. He was elected to Congress, joined the anti-Communist faction, and was zooming on the way to re-election when one of his old Army buddies got off the train in Salt Lake City, read the story, and blew the whistle. Stringfellow spent the war in the U.S. He wasn’t a spy, not a hero. His wounds were not from combat. Stringfellow resigned his candidacy at the insistence of the Mormon Church and Utah Republicans (perhaps the last time an organized religion and the Republicans acted nobly, together). It’s a story that should be made into a movie. There’s a good account published by the Taft Institute of Public Policy at the University of Utah, but it’s difficult to get (funding f0r the Taft Institute ran out, I hear, and it was replaced by the Huntsman Seminars on Politics — but that may be erroneous information, too).

Or I could talk about Richard Feynman, an inspiration to me, and to our two sons, both of whom fully enjoyed his books, and one of whom seems destined to follow Feynman into physics (the other works to understand neuroscience, still inspired by Feynman to do science). Everybody knows the story of Feynman, though.

Millard Fillmore is already covered pretty well here; adding more would be gilding the lily, or covering tracks, or something. I could write about one of my modern heroes of history, Mike Mansfield, one of the best bosses I ever had — but trying to find seven items that could be explained quickly might be difficult. I could write chapters about one of my other bosses, too, Orrin Hatch. Or I could write about Jefferson.

I’ll try to go right down the middle on this one: James Madison it is.

Seven items about James Madison, our fourth president, and “the Father of the Constitution”:

  1. See that scar on his nose? It’s from frostbite. When Gov. Patrick Henry blocked Madison’s appointment to the U.S. Senate, in order to fulfill his commitment to James Madison create a bill of rights, Madison had to run for election to the U.S. House of Representatives. Henry thought he could block that, too, by picking James Monroe to run against Madison, and getting lots of support for Monroe. In the last debate, a good buggy ride away from their homes, the two men decided to share the fare. Monroe said Madison won the debate handily; Madison wasn’t sure. On the buggy ride back to their homes, at night on a very cold winter, the two got involved in a long discussion about the new government, the new nation, and their hopes and dreams about the future. Discussion was so engrossing that Madison failed to notice his nose was freezing. Fast friends ever after, Madison won the election; Madison introduced Monroe to Jefferson. Patrick Henry’s plan to frustrate the Constitution and the new government was thwarted. And Madison bore the scar the rest of his life.
  2. Good government as religion — Long before the concept of an American secular religion, Madison attended the College of New Jersey (later to become Princeton), aiming for a career in the clergy. College President John Witherspoon, a Presbyterian minister, urged Madison to take not just any calling, but the highest calling. Madison went into politics and government. Religionists try to paint Madison as a secularist; early on, his drive for religious freedom was fueled by his faith. It’s an example more church people should follow.
  3. Egalitarian trends — On his trip to New York for the inauguration and opening of the 1st Congress, Madison stopped off at Mt. Vernon. (See notes about ghosting below — it was an eventful trip.) One of the topics of conversation was what form of address to use for the chief executive. Two camps were forming, one favoring “Your Highness,” the other favoring “Your Excellency.” Asked for his opinion, Madison suggested “Mr. President.” Some tried to make a more formal, more stuffy title official later in the year, but we still call our chief executive today by the unroyal sobriquet Madison suggested, “Mr. President.”
  4. Romance with George and Martha as cupids — Madison’s bachelorhood was a challenge to George and Martha Washington. Once the government got underway in Philadelphia, and after Aaron Burr introduced Madison to the woman, George and Martha worked to match up Madison with a vivacious widow, successfully. James Madison and Dolley Payne Todd were married in 1794.
  5. Great Madison’s Ghost! — Madison played ghost writer for George Washington, and others. On his way to the first inauguration, at his courtesy stop at Mt. Vernon, Madison was asked to draft a speech suitable for a president at inauguration. He happily complied. With some irony, whether it was known or not, once Washington delivered the address, Congress designated Madison to write Congress’s reply. Madison’s writing shows up under many other names, including that of “Publius,” in the Federalist Papers. Madison also contributed major parts of the farewell essay Washington planned to use in 1792; Madison and Washington were not on such good terms when Washington actually bid farewell in 1796. Alexander Hamilton got the last crack at ghosting the piece, and added some barbs aimed at Thomas Jefferson. Madison’s own ghosting had come back to haunt him, and John Adams won the election of 1796. (Madison got revenge, if you can call it that, in 1800, when Jefferson won the rematch, but not until the House of Representatives had to break a tie between Jefferson and his vice presidential slate-mate, Aaron Burr; it was Hamilton who finally had to eat some crow and urge the Federalists in the House to go for Jefferson over Hamilton’s more bitter enemy, Burr.)
  6. Offending the great man — Madison was off getting married when Washington and Hamilton headed the army and put down the Whiskey Rebellion. Madison suggested to Washington that alternative resolutions would have been possible. Washington took offense. It is unclear whether they ever spoke to each other after that, but that event breached the once-warm and cordial relationship that had produced the Constitution and got the new government off to a fine start, not to mention got Madison into a good marriage.  It’s fascinating Washington would show such pique, and fascinating that Madison stood for it.
  7. America’s greatest collaborator? Madison got to the Virginia Assembly late in the Virginia Bill of Rights process, but collaborated with George Mason to add a clause on religious freedom, helping to secure George Mason’s reputation. He collaborated with Thomas Jefferson, pushing Jefferson’s legislative ideas while Jefferson was in France, getting immortality for Jefferson with the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. He collaborated with Washington to resolve the Chesapeake dispute between Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania; he collaborated with Washington and Alexander Hamilton to get the Continental Congress to call the Philadelphia convention. He collaborated with Ben Franklin to convince Washington to attend the convention, and to get Washington elected president of the convention. When John Jay was physically beaten badly at a demonstration for ratification, Madison stepped in to collaborate with Hamilton on what we now call the Federalist Papers. He collaborated with Washington on the formation of the new government; collaborated with Jefferson on a bill of rights and foreign affairs. In an era when one did not run for office one’s self, Madison got Jefferson on the ballots in 1796 and 1800, essentially managing the campaigns that put Jefferson into office. He was with Jefferson on the butt-kicking they got from John Marshall on the Marbury v. Madison decision. At the end of their lives, and especially after Jefferson’s death, Madison followed through on the establishment of the University of Virginia, Jefferson’s prize project. In each case, Madison’s collaboration improved the project, and in several cases, the projects would have failed but for Madison’s work. Madison may take the title of the most successful legislator ever in U.S. history (competing perhaps with LBJ), but he definitely takes the crown as the best collaborator for the public good. Had Madison not been the collaborator on these things, would they have happened? In all of these projects, the people with whom he collaborated achieved their highest aims. Who wouldn’t want to collaborate with Madison?

Let’s get some good stuff in here in the tagging. Let’s tag some diverse blogs and bloggers who write a fair amount. I tag Pam at Grassroots Science, Bug Girl, Miguel at Around the Corner, Ron at Route 66 News, Curious Expeditions, Dorigo at Quantum Diaries Survivor, and Barry Weber at The First Morning.

Whew!  There’s good reading at those places even if they don’t do anything new.

Thanks, P.Z., for the kick in the rear to think about Madison, and to think about seven (out of dozens) of good blogs to refer people to.


Bae Gardner, 1926-2008

February 23, 2008

I was one of Bae’s kids, too.

bae-gardner-1.jpg

Sad note from the Hinckley Institute of Politics (note the funeral is today, for those in Salt Lake City):

The former, present, and future interns, staff, faculty, and family of the Hinckley Institute of Politics mourn the passing of former Hinckley Institute Assistant Director, Bae B. Gardner. I first walked in the door of the Hinckley Institute in the fall of 1988. It immediately felt like a second home and the main reason was Bae. I am proudly one of “Bae’s kids.” Unless you share that distinction, it is impossible to fully convey the loss we feel today with Bae’s passing. Bae was not just an administrator to her “kids.” She was a mother, friend, cheerleader, mentor, and confidant. Indeed, she supported and sustained me from that first day as an inquiring student through the present as the Hinckley Institute’s director. Bae had the unique talent of making students feel that they had unlimited potential and the tireless ability to provide them with life-changing opportunities. The Hinckley Institute and I will forever be grateful for the legacy she established and the love she exhibited during her incredible years of service at the Hinckley Institute.

Kirk L. Jowers
Director, Hinckley Institute of Politics

Viewing and Funeral Service
Saturday, February 23rd
Viewing: 11:00 am. Service: 1:00 pm.

Foothill LDS 7th Ward Chapel
2215 E. Roosevelt Avenue
Salt Lake City
, Utah 84108

In lieu of flowers, the Gardner family has suggested that donations may be made to the Bae B. Gardner Internship in Public Policy scholarship fund administered by the Hinckley Institute of Politics. Donations can be made online or by calling the University of Utah Development Office at 801.581.6825. Donations can also be mailed to the Hinckley Institute at 260 S. Central Campus Dr. Rm. 253. Salt Lake City, UT 84112. For more information call the Hinckley Institute of Politics at 801.581.8501.

I had applied for an internship with the National Wildlife Federation. Bae thought I had a chance at a different internship, so she copied the form and sent it to the Secretary of the Senate. I lost the NWF internship on a .01 gradepoint difference. I got the internship at the Senate, and it changed my life.

Of course, I was on the road debating when the word came through that they wanted me in Washington. Bae called me late at night at home, minutes before my acceptance would have been overdue. Four days later I was working in the Capitol.  Whenever I meet with other Hinckley Interns, I learn she did more for everyone else.

My first real office was a few feet from the Senate Chamber, with a view down the mall to the Washington Monument, and a chandalier 8 feet across. I got floor privileges to the Senate, and with Mike Mansfield’s name on my ID card, I had access to the White House and almost any other government building in town.

That sort of education is priceless. Thanks to Bae Gardner.

Bae should be remembered as a hero for education, a champion for college kids, and one who played a role in more good public policy decisions than few others in history, by promoting good kids to good experience that they applied later in public service.

I wish the service were streamed on the web somewhere. I’ll bet it’ll be something to see and hear.


J. D. Williams, 1926-2007

September 18, 2007

Dr. J. D. Williams

Dr. J. D. Williams, the founding director of the Robert H. Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, died at his home in Salt Lake City on September 4.

Links to news articles are provided from the Hinckley Institute’s website.

The Hinckley Institute provides powerful education, usually in the form of on-the-knife-edge training, in practical politics, the kind of politics that can change things.  Utah enjoys the benefits of many active people in politics who learned how to make things work better through a Hinckley Institute internship.

Dr. Williams led the Institute for its first ten years, from 1965 to 1975.  He was an active Democrat, but the Institute trained people of all parties, and he enjoyed good working relations with politicians of all stripes.  His personal interventions pushed many elected officials and other good citizens off to a good start.

I served two internships with the Utah House of Representatives, and got the benefit of Williams’ and Bae Gardner’s personal attention when they copied my application for a Washington intership with the National Wildlife Federation, and submitted it to the Secretary of the U.S. Senate, too.  I lost out on the NWF internship to woman I knew who had a tenth of a point better GPA in biology than I did.  But I got the internship in the office of Frank Valeo, who worked closely with his friend, Sen. Mike Mansfield of Montana, the Majority Leader.

It was a grand time in Washington in that spring of 1974, as Richard Nixon’s Watergate escapades were unfolding in the House Judiciary Committee, as the U.S. faced the first oil embargo from OPEC, as the peace in Vietnam was unraveling, and as a variety of other issues simmered across the nation.

Later I had the benefit of several great interns from the Hinckley Institute to help me out.

Robert H. Hinckley’s idea of practical political training was a great one.  The Institute could easily have sunk into mediocrity, as just a clearing house for cheap labor for bad politicians.  Under Dr. Williams’ leadership, instead it became a force for good political action, a focal point for ethical public officials.

It was a sad week for Democrats generally, in Utah.  Former Gov. Calvin L. Rampton died today.  He was 93.


State of the Union

January 23, 2007

Clay Bennett cartoon, Bush at SOTU

Clay Bennett cartoon, copyright Clay Bennett. Bennett is the editorial cartoonist for the Christian Science Monitor and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for his editorial cartoons there.

Tonight President Bush delivers his State of the Union speech to Congress. State of the Union speeches are increasingly the only time we get to see presidents live, and that may lead to the extreme crabbiness about the speech Ed Brayton shows over at Dispatches from the Culture Wars. It’s a Constitution-required exercise (Article II, section 3), though the prime-time television broadcast and other pomp and ceremony are not mentioned.

Section 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.

In our history as a republic, presidents have done everything from just sending the details in a letter to Congress to the current pageant. My recollection is that Richard Nixon gave the first prime-time speech — before that the speeches were given during the business day, and not broadcast live — and that Ronald Reagan was the first president to give all of his SOTUs in the evening. (I’m very willing to correct that information if you have better details.)

And while they have occasionally made history, such as Franklin Roosevelt’s 1941 SOTU (the “four freedoms”), my fondness for the events is mostly personal. Read the rest of this entry »


Gerald Ford, nice guy

December 26, 2006

Gerald Ford died today. He was 93, the longest-surviving ex-president.

President Gerald R. Ford and Mrs. Betty Ford walk with their daughter, Susan, and family dog, Liberty, at Camp David Aug. 7, 1976.
President Gerald R. Ford and Mrs. Betty Ford walk with their daughter, Susan, and family dog, Liberty, at Camp David Aug. 7, 1976. Photo probably by David Hume Kennerly.

When a president dies, newspapers and news magazines pull out the stops to make their coverage of the person’s life exhaustive. You’ll see a lot about Gerald Ford in the next few days.

Gerald Ford, White House portrait, by Everett Raymond Kinstler
Official White House portrait of President Gerald R. Ford, by Everett Raymond Kinstler, painted 1977.

My college internship* with the U.S. Senate took me to Washington in 1974, just after Ford had assumed the Vice Presidency under the new rules of the 25th Amendment. Ford was selected as Vice President after Spiro T. Agnew had resigned in lieu of being prosecuted for taking kickbacks from his days as governor of Maryland. Within a few months he was elevated to the presidency when Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974.

But for a few months he was President of the Senate. Starting with Spiro Agnew, vice presidents no longer spend a lot of time on Capitol Hill fulfilling their Constitutional duties as Senate leader. Hubert Humphrey had been quite active as vice president, carrying key messages from the White House to the Congress, and from Congress to the President, and pushing legislation with Lyndon Johnson, in what was surely one of the most effective legislative teams in the history of the world.

And when he was acting as President of the Senate, I first ran into Gerald Ford — literally.

I interned with the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, in the office of the late Secretary of the Senate Frank Valeo. Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) signed my credentials (we didn’t have photo I.D.s in those days), and since Mansfield had so few interns, or staffers, we, and I had the run of the Capitol (and Washington, too — with Mansfield’s signature I could get into the White House press room, which was a great place to hang out then. I also had Senate floor privileges, the value of which became clear to me only years later when I staffed for another senator. As an intern I could walk on the floor at any time, and sometimes did to watch debates. Staffers generally cannot do that at will.)

Read the rest of this entry »

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